Topic: Round one is indicative of what to expect for the season.
Affirmative: Ashleigh Craven
Negative: Stephen Marson

Ashleigh: Round one is important because it gives an indication of what to expect for the season ahead. Since 2008, only one team has won the Grand Final and lost round one, and that was Hawthorn last year. As for every other year since 2007, there is a suggestion that round one is integral if you are going to win the Grand Final.

Stephen: Round one is only 4.5 per cent of the season, so in the grand scheme of things, losing in the first round is only a small blip on the way to the finals. No coach has ever been sacked after the opening round of the season, so the club understands that one game does not exactly set the tone for the rest of the season.

Ashleigh: Round one may only be a small part of the season, although it sets the tone for what to expect. Fans wait months for the start of the season and cannot wait to see what their club can provide them for the season ahead. This starts from round one. Vast improvements that happen to a club usually happen over the pre-season. If a club looks slow and lacking in fitness in round one, how can this really change throughout the season when the most important part of training is behind them?

Stephen: If a team loses badly in the opening round questions may be asked of them, but teams are never ruled out of the finals race. It may be a small taste as to what is in store, but teams only need an improved performance in their next match and then they are back on track.

Ashleigh: Since 2008, an average of 5.5 teams who won in round one went on to play finals. That means only 32 per cent of the teams that played finals between the years 2008 and 2013 lost in round one, suggesting that those who win in round one are much more favourable to play finals.

Stephen: Even though it shouldn’t be the case with professional athletes, some teams do carry over pre-season form into the first round. Round one games are generally at a much higher intensity than NAB Challenge games and some teams still have to adapt to that game style. Teams may drop the points if they do not come ready to play in their opening fixture.

Ashleigh: Teams have a gruelling pre-season that starts only a couple of months after the end of the previous season. Between pre-season training and the start of the season, there is adequate time for learning the game plan and adapting to the new style. The NAB Challenge is used to practice the game plan and iron out the kinks to be ready for the start of the season. It is an expectation that by round one, teams will be fully adapted and ready to execute that game plan.

Stephen: It depends on who your opponents are in round one. Collingwood and Adelaide played against two top four teams from last year in Fremantle and Geelong, yet many people would still have the Pies and Crows featuring in September this season. Last season Hawthorn and Geelong played against each other in round one, and regardless of the result (Geelong won by seven) both teams were still flag favourites, with Hawthorn winning the premiership.

Ashleigh: There is a difference between losing in round one and being obliterated in round one. What Fremantle did to Collingwood was not simply beat them, but they showed they are an entire class above them. As for Geelong and Hawthorn last season, that seven-point loss was only a narrow defeat for the premiers. If Collingwood had only a narrow loss, it would be a different story, but if people are expecting Collingwood to play finals they should have been able to get a little closer to another potential finals team.

Stephen: Each win is worth four points. A team that wins in the first week and loses the week after is on the same amount of points as the team that loses first and wins in round two. Each game is as important as the next, so to say that the round one result is more important then any other just is not true.


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You can follow Ashleigh (@ashcraven24) and Stephen (@stephenmarson) on Twitter.